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Maryland men’s basketball vs. Nicholls State preview

The Terps look for their third straight win.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 06 Penn State at Maryland Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Maryland men’s basketball will be back in action Tuesday at XFINITY Center when it takes on Nicholls State.

The Terps are coming off a resounding 105-65 win over Alcorn State, their first 40-point victory against a Division I opponent since 2017. Julian Reese and Jahmir Young led the way with 15 and 13 points, respectively, while freshmen Jamies Kaiser Jr. and DeShawn Harris-Smith each added 12 points.

Tuesday’s game will tip off at 8:30 p.m. and air on Big Ten Network.

Nicholls State Colonels (4-6, 0-0 Southland)

2022-23 record: 16-15, 11-7

Tevon Saddler was named head coach of Nicholls State, his alma mater, on April 20 after spending last season at Maryland as its director of player personnel.

This year, the Colonels are 4-6, with their most notable win being a 68-66 victory over LSU on Nov. 10. They also defeated South Alabama, 102-97, in triple overtime.

Players to know

Jamal West Jr., junior forward, 6-foot-6, No. 15 – In his first season at Nicholls, West leads the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game, while shooting 52.4% from the field and 42.9% from three. He also averages 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.

West spent his first two seasons of collegiate basketball at South Alabama before transferring to Clarendon College last year, where he was named Western Junior College Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Byron Ireland, junior guard, 6-foot-2, No. 13 – Ireland has only played in four games this season – two starts – but is second on the team with 12.3 points per game after scoring 25 points against Elizabeth City State last Saturday. He also averages 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

Jalen White, senior guard, 6-foot-4, No. 21 – White has started all 10 games this season, playing a team-high 37.8 minutes per game. After primarily coming off the bench last season, White has thrived in a starting role, averaging 11.6 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.1% from the field and 40.3% from three.

Strength

Experience. What Nicholls lacks in talent, it makes up for in experience. Six of the seven players the Colonels have started this season are upperclassmen, however, none of them consistently started for Nicholls last season.

Weakness

Rebounding. The Colonels struggle to rebound the ball, ranking second-to-last in their conference with a -5.9 rebounding margin. They also rank second-to-last in offensive rebounds per game (9.4) and last in opponent rebounds per game (41.6). Much of these issues can be attributed to Nicholls’ lack of height, with its tallest starter being 6-foot-8.

Three things to watch

1. Can the Terps replicate their 3-point shooting? Maryland head coach Kevin Willard promised 3-point shooting improvement — which is not saying much considering the Terps ranked second-to-last among all Division I teams in 3-point efficiency prior to their game against Alcorn State. His team delivered Tuesday, shooting a season-high 46.7% from three. But whether this is a sign of things to come or just a rare showing is yet to be seen.

2. Freshmen improvement. Three of Maryland’s freshmen impressed against Alcorn State. Kaiser posted a career-high 12 points, while Harris-Smith finally shot well from deep, hitting three of his four 3-point attempts. Jahnathan Lamothe also shined, scoring a season-high 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, which could lead to more playing time.

3. Another buy game. Maryland is 6-0 at home, with five of its wins coming against low- or mid-major opponents. With Nicholls coming to College Park, the Terps should improve to 7-4 relatively easily.